5 Tips for Choosing a Fertilizer

Posted by Mary Martinez on Jun 30, 2017 8:38:59 AM

Does the brand of fertilizer you use really matter? Short answer is yes, it does. There is a lot more than just N-P-K that makes up a bag of fertilizer. There are a few important things you should look for when selecting a brand of fertilizer.

EEF (Enhanced Efficiency Fertilizer)

The Association of American Plant Food Control Officials (AAPFCO) defines EEFs as products with characteristics that allow increased plant uptake and therefore reduce potential nutrient losses to the environment (e.g., gaseous losses, leaching, or runoff) when compared to an appropriate reference fertilizer that does not contain additives. Controlled or slow-release fertilizer provide solutions that contribute to environmental responsibility:

  • Reducing N volatilization and slowing the conversion to nitrate means more N remains available to plants
  • With gradual metering of N, uptake by the plant is optimized; less is underutilized, reducing potential loss to the environment
  • The result is more efficient nutrient use, meaning your customers can apply less N, which not only benefits the environment; it helps to preserve this vital resource as well

TurfGro fertilizers have several slow release fertilizer options that include technology such as Duration and XCU.


Micronutrients are essential for soil health and plant growth. Soil analysis shows micronutrient deficiency is common in soil and can be a contributing factor to pest problems and slow germination. If a fertilizer contains one of the common micronutrients (boron, copper, iron, manganese, zinc, magnesium, calcium & sulfur) they will be listed on the label after NPK.    

What makes TurfGro fertilizer different from other brands is that it is manufactured and blended locally in market. This allows us to design the formulation to meet the soil needs of that market, adding micronutrients commonly missing.

What’s in the Bag?

Typical fertilizer is made up of four components: urea, nitrogen, potash and filler. The first three components provide nutrients to the turf, while “filler” normally doesn’t offer any value. The amount and content of that filler can influence the quality of that turf.

Amount – the more urea, nitrogen and potash in the blend, they less need for filler. So when you select a fertilizer with a higher NPK, you will have less filler in the bag. In addition to NPK, micronutrients like calcium and magnesium reduce the amount of filler blended in the fertilizer.

Content – most higher end fertilizer will use biosolids or other organic-based product as filler. Most less expensive products use limestone, which provides zero nutrition to the soil. It’s less expensive, but you are still paying for product that can’t be used by the turf.

When needed, Horizon’s TurfGro fertilizer commonly use biosolids as the basis for filler, ensuring a higher value product for you.


Pellet Size

In blended fertilizers, the individual particles remain separate in the mixture, and there is a potential for segregation of the nutrients. This problem can be reduced by using materials that are the same size. Properly made blends are generally equal in effectiveness to other compound fertilizers.


You can always find a cheaper bag of fertilizer. But when you look overall cost of the application you will find that a cheaper bag will normally cost you more in the long run. Following a program and using a premium fertilizer like TurfGro will help you deliver healthy, green turf to your client season after season.

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Topics: Maintenance, Fertilizer

How to Select the Right Lawn Spreader

Posted by Mary Martinez on Sep 19, 2016 11:11:21 AM

Selecting the right spreader for a fertilizer or seed application isn’t that complicated.  But avoiding some common misperceptions can help ensure you get the right machine for the job. 


How big of a hopper do you need?  This is one of the most common misunderstandings when buying a lawn spreader.  50-pound hopper for a 50-pound bag of fertilizer, right?  Wrong!  50-pound spreaders have a high risk of spill since a full bag of product goes right to the top.  They are light-duty units definitely not fit for the landscaper who uses them on a regular basis. 100-pound spreaders on the other hand, are difficult to push when full at a consistent pace necessary to achieve uniform results. A 70-pound spreader is the ideal size when using 50-pound bags.  Not only do you avoid spillage, but you can refill product before it gets all the way to the bottom.


Most commercial lawn spreaders come in either stainless steel or epoxy powder coated plastic.  The biggest concern for landscape professionals regarding spreaders is rust on the frame, caused by failures to wash off abrasive materials and store inside away from the elements.  And while more expensive, the stainless steel spreader will withstand rust better than other material, which means it will last longer and give you a better return on investment.  Durable pneumatic tires are also important; lower quality tires can create a choppy ride and ultimately an uneven application.

Product Waste

Having a quality spreader with multiple attachments will can help you better manage how much product goes out on each application, lowering your cost of goods and improving profitability.  Side-deflectors deliver a targeted, accurate spread and prevent material from landing on sidewalks, driveways and streets.  This eliminates product waste and ultimately saves you money. Another helpful attachment is a hopper cover, which protects material from rain or snow during application and reduces the risk of a spill.

Don’t Forget to Calibrate!

Calibrating your spreader for every application is the only way to ensure you are applying fertilizer and pesticides at the correct rate, also reducing your overall cost of goods.  If you do not calibrate you risk applying too much or too little product, risking serious injury to your turf or disappointing results.  Calibrating your spreader is easy to do and normally takes about 5 minutes.  To learn more on calibrating your fertilizer, watch our “how to” video here. http://blog.horizononline.com/blog/how-to-calibrate-a-fertilizer-spreader 

Want to learn more about the spreaders available at your local Horizon?  Call your local Horizon store, or click for an overview on the new Prizelawn Spreader selection. http://connect.horizononline.com/prizelawn-spreaders

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Topics: Maintenance, Fertilizer

6 Technologies Behind Horizon's New TurfGro Plus Premium Fertilizer Line

Posted by Ryan Moore on Apr 29, 2016 3:26:42 PM


Designed to help you adjust to seasonal and environmental changes and accomplish more with every fertilizer application, Horizon's new TurfGro Plus premium fertilizer line does more than just feed your turf. It also reduces water use, improves soil health, and ensures satisfied clients all season long.

The TurfGro Plus line utilizes some of the best technologies our vendor partners have to offer. In this article, we'll focus on 6 key technologies that help separate TurfGro Plus from other fertilizers.


4 Technologies Already Being Used in TurfGro Plus Formulations



sanctuary_logo.pngIf you're facing a situation where your turf needs fertilizer, but you can't water it in right away, using a fertilizer that is blended with the Sanctuary is an ideal solution. The Sanctuary is a high energy organic blending base that feeds the soil first and won't burn your turf.

Each of our TurfGro Plus organic based products increase the soil microbial populations and promote a natural sustainable approach. This reduces the amount of nutrients and water required without jeopardizing the turf health or negatively impacting the environment.

Many of today's consumers are moving toward a greener, more sustainable approach when it comes to the products that they purchase. When you use one of the TurfGro Plus fertilizers that utilizes the Sanctuary organic technology, you get the organic soil building benefits without the high end organic cost.

Currently used in:
TurfGro Plus 8-0-2 "Soil MD" Fertilizer w/ Mycorrhizae
TurfGro Plus 21-0-4 Organic with Urea
TurfGro Plus 23-0-4 Soil Care Plus

MycoApply Mycorrhizal Fungi

myco_apply_logo.pngThe word "mycorrhizae" literally means "fungus-roots" and reflects the mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship between specialized soil fungi and plant roots. In fact, about 95% of the world's plants form a mycorrhizal relationship in their native habitats.

Mycorrhizal fungi work on almost all plant material from turf to trees and increase the surface absorbing area of roots 100 to 1,000 times, which greatly improves the plant's ability to use the soil's resources. In addition to increasing the surface absorbing area of the root system, mycorrhizal fungi also release powerful enzymes that dissolve "locked up" nutrients such as phosphorus and iron.

One treatment can last for the life of the plant and reduces water use by as much as 40%, which means it's a great solution in times of drought. Mycorrhizal fungi also greatly reduces transplant shock.

Currently used in:
TurfGro Plus 8-0-2 "Soil MD" Fertilizer w/ Mycorrhizae

Wolf Trax Iron

wolf_trax_logo.jpgThanks to its patented EvenCoat Technology, Wolf Trax Iron DDP is coated onto every granule in the fertilizer blend. This results in a blanket-like distribution of the nutrient and places the nutrients closer to plant roots for earlier uptake, allowing the turf to develop an even, deep green color.

In addition, Wolf Trax is a non-staining iron source, which means you won't have to worry about the fertilizer staining your customer's sidewalks. 

Currently used in:
TurfGro Plus 23-0-4 Soil Care Plus
TurfGro Plus 19-0-7 with Synergy
TurfGro Plus 25-0-6 Slow Release with Synergy


synergy_technology.pngAquatrols Synergy Technology is a unique patented combination of non ionic surfactants that was discovered while evaluating interactions between a variety of surfactant chemistries. This discovery yielded an exceptionally effective soil penetrant.

Synergy allows the water to better infiltrate the soil and delivers the water more effectively to the root zone, which translates to less puddling and runoff. Aquatrols Synergy Technology increases the uniform movement of your fertilizer into the root zone of trees, shrubs, turf, and plants.

Currently used in:
TurfGro Plus 23-0-4 Soil Care Plus
TurfGro Plus 19-0-7 with Synergy
TurfGro Plus 25-0-6 Slow Release with Synergy

2 Additional Technologies that are Coming Soon


Crystal Green

crystal_green_logo.pngCrystal Green is a slow release phosphorus source that will be added to our TurfGro Plant Pro Plus product line. When soil isn't providing enough phosphorus, roots can have a difficult time establishing and plants can struggle to recover from stress and disease.

Crystal Green releases phosphorus in response to organic acids produced by the roots. Because it gradually releases phosphus according to root demand, Crystal Green minimizes phosphorus tie up in the soil, lowers the risk of leaching and runoff, and provides a season-long supply of phosphorus.



apex_10_logo.pngApex-10 is an organic peat humic substance that will soon be added into our TurfGro Plus Starter fertilizer. A small amount of Apex-10 can make a big difference when you're laying sod or planting trees and shrubs.

Numerous university studies have shown that Apex-10 consistently cuts transplant replacement costs by at least 50%. It also enhances fertilizer efficiency by up to 66% and water efficiency by up to 30%.


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Topics: Fertilizer

How to Calibrate a Fertilizer Spreader

Posted by Nick diLorenzo on Oct 1, 2015 6:03:00 PM

If maintenance services are a significant source of revenue for your business, one of the quickest ways to improve your profit margins is to consistently use the proper amount of product on each and every job.

In this FAQ, Nick diLorenzo, Horizon's National Sales Manager for Landscape Products, shares a simple 3 step method that will help you quickly calibrate your fertilizer spreader.

Video Summary

In less than 5 minutes, you can know exactly how much fertilizer you need to apply and make sure your fertilizer spreader is set up to apply that right amount of product.

3 Things You Need to Get Started:

  1. Fertilizer Spreader - To properly measure out the test area of 1000 sq ft, you need to know the effective width of your fertilizer spreader. The effective width is how wide the spreader throws the fertilizer.
  2. Scale - To weigh the material.
  3. Calibration Tray, Broom, or Bucket - To measure or capture the material you put out in the test area. Calibration trays capture the fertilizer during the test, which allows you to get an extremely accurate measurement. If you weigh your material before and after your test application, a bucket can also get you a very accurate measurement. A broom allows you to sweep up the material within the test area for weighing, but is usually the least accurate option of the 3.


The 3 Steps of Fertilizer Calibration

Step 1: Calculate how much fertilizer you need.

To properly calibrate your spreader, you need to do the math first and then get out into the field and do the legwork. To calculate how much fertilizer you need to apply, you have to know:
- The application rate,
- The target nutrient,
- The formulation of your fertilizer.

So if you have a contract that states you need to use 1 lb of nitrogen per 1000 sq ft and you're using a fertilizer with an NPK of 24-2-9, divide the 1 lb of N by .24 (the percentage of nitrogen in the bag as a decimal). In this example, you'll need to apply 4.16 lbs of fertilizer to get 1 lb of N per 1000 sq ft.


Step 2: Find out how much fertilizer you're currently using.

Calibrating a Fertilizer SpreaderTo test your spreader's current application rate, measure out an area of 1000 sq ft.

Coverage Area = Length x Effective Width

The easiest way to measure out your test area is to divide your coverage area by the effective width of your spreader. So if you want to cover 1000 sq ft and the spreader has an effective width of 10 ft, you'll need to walk 100 ft.

Weigh your fertilizer before and after your test application to determine how much fertilizer you're currently applying.


Step 3: Adjust the spreader's setting until the application rate is within 1% of the amount calculated in Step 1.

Compare the amount of fertilizer you calculated in Step 1 to the amount of fertilizer your spreader actually used during the test application. Adjust the setting on the spreader up or down accordingly. Once you're happy with the setting (we recommend within 1%), write it in your log book!


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Topics: Maintenance, Fertilizer

Lowering Product & Labor Costs at 140+ Properties (Case Study)

Posted by Ryan Moore on Jul 2, 2015 4:18:00 PM

coast_landscaping_logo_2About Coast Landscaping Inc.

Coast Landscaping Inc. has been a leader in all areas of water and landscape management since 1978 and works closely with both management firms and municipalities. They serve over 140 properties throughout California through their two divisions: Landscape Construction and Interior/Exterior Landscape Maintenance. 

Coast Landscaping Inc. is one of the few companies that has acquired both the State of California small business status (SBE) as well as the City of San Diego emerging Local Business Enterprise (ELBE) status. Their experienced team serves, but is not limited to, general contractors, municipalities, homeowner associations (HOAs), owner associations and commercial units.  

The Problem

Because of their size and span, Coast Landscaping was experiencing problems with consistency in their product applications. With 140+ properties being managed by a team of supervisors, different products were being used on different schedules, leading to inconsistent results.

Some supervisors were using standard N-P-K fertilizer, resulting in more frequent applications and higher labor costs. Others were also splitting their chemical applications from their nutrition, again increasing labor costs and ultimately reducing product effectiveness.

The Solution

Coast Landscaping Inc. worked with Horizon’s local Business Development Representative Neb Keeton to create a plan that would fit their clients' needs and circumstances, while limiting the use of chemicals and the need for additional applications. The new landscape maintenance schedule also needed to be financially responsible, especially when it came to managing some of their large commercial clients.

By moving to the TurfGro™ Extended Feed Fertilizer and the TurfGro™ Weed and Feed with Surge, Coast was able to achieve their goals of lowering chemical usage and labor costs while increasing client satisfaction. In addition, Neb helped them execute the new plan by providing informative materials for employee safety training and MSDS lists.

The Result

Since the conversion, Coast Landscaping Inc. has been able to use smaller application rates with less frequency, reducing overall costs especially cost per application. They have been able to pass those savings on to their clients, resulting in more satisfied and loyal customers.

The TurfGro Extended Feed Fertilizer has produced healthier looking plant material, while the pre-emergent weed control has improved appearances while helping reduce labor costs. Tyler Mason, Coast Landscaping's Operations Coordinator, noted, “By incorporating pre-emergent into the fertilizer and the aid of slow-release fertilizers we have been able to increase the effectiveness of the fertilizer while eliminating excess growth, increasing mowing efficiency, and building a healthier root mass.”

Want to Lower Costs and Achieve More Consistency at the Sites You Manage?
Contact one of Horizon's local Business Development Representatives!
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Topics: Maintenance, Fertilizer

Fall Fertilizer Cheat Sheet

Posted by Christina Burton on Oct 7, 2014 10:50:00 PM

spreaderWant green, healthy turf in the spring? Then you must fertilize correctly in the fall!

Fall fertilization of turfgrass is extremely important, especially for cool season turfgrasses like Tall Fescue, Kentucky Bluegrass, and Perennial Rye. If you've been neglecting some of your lawns this summer, now is the time to get them back in shape!

This cheat sheet covers the role of fall fertilizer in programs for both warm season grasses and cool season grasses and when overseeding for winter. We'll also look at recommended fertilizer formulations separated by region.

Fertilizing Warm Season Grasses

Common species: Bermuda grass, Zoysia grass, and St. Augustine grass.

Where they grow: Southern U.S., e.g. Florida, Arizona, southern Texas, and southern California.

Seasonal growth pattern: These grasses grow actively starting in spring and through the summer. In most cases, they go completely dormant in winter unless they're overseeded with a cool season grass.

Fertilizing in fall: With warm season turf, it’s important to stick with fertilizing in the spring and summer, tapering off in fall.

These grasses often go dormant in the winter. So when warm season grasses are fertilized with applications of quick release nitrogen too late into the fall, their tissues are likely to become tender rather than harden off in preparation for the colder temperatures. This can result in damage to the turf and a poor spring recovery out of dormancy.

However a properly timed application of slow release nitrogen plus high potassium can aid in carbohydrate storage for the winter and increase turf density, meaning better spring recovery and defense against weed infestation.


Fertilizing Cool Season Grasses

Common species: Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass, Bent Grass, Tall Fescue.

Where they grow: In true seasonal climates and coastal, temperate regions.

Seasonal growth pattern: These grasses grow most actively in the spring and in the fall. In true seasonal climates, particularly those that receive snow, these grasses go dormant during the winter. In a lot of coastal, more temperate regions, they will still grow through the winter, but typically a lot slower than in the spring and in the fall.

Fertilizing in fall: For cool season grasses, the fall fertilization is the most critical. If you only have one time you COULD fertilize each year, THIS should be it. A proper “Winterizer” containing slow release nitrogen aids in carbohydrate storage, resulting in a strong root system that is less susceptible to winter damage.

If the turf is still actively growing when winter comes, it’s ok to continue fertilizing, but it’s not really that important to overall turf health. It’s more about keeping the turf green and your customer happy.


Fertilization Timing When Overseeding

When overseeding warm season grasses like Bermuda with a different cool season turf (usually Perennial Ryegrass) to maintain color during the winter, it can be a challenge to time the fertilization both in fall and the following spring.

You need to get the Ryegrass down in early fall and the last thing you want is the Bermuda to continue growing as you're establishing the Ryegrass. At the same time, any new seed that you put down to keep your turf green through the winter months is going to need starter fertilizer to promote root growth and establishment. To successfully transition from one growing season to the other, the taper down period of the Bermuda is a period you’ll want to avoid fertilizing. Let that really die down so that your Ryegrass can come in with success.

Then once the spring comes around, it’s very hard for the Bermuda to start its upswing if the Ryegrass is still actively growing. You'll want to avoid fertilizing in that late spring window so the Ryegrass can slow down.

In the end, properly timing fertilization when overseeding isn’t just about the right times to fertilize, but also knowing the right times to avoid fertilizing.


Recommended Fall Fertilizer Formulations by Region

Arizona & Nevada

TurfGro 6-20-20 ProStarter

  • Contains high phosphorus, which is essential for root growth and strong development of the plant, and low nitrogen to prevent burning new seedlings.
  • Phosphorus naturally existing in the soil is immobile and unreachable by small roots, so a high-phosphorus fertilizer should always be applied at or shortly after planting.

TurfGro 21-0-7 Cool Season

  • Maintain turf vigor throughout the cold months with this high nitrogen fertilizer, of which 10% is nitrate nitrogen for quick green-up.
  • Compare to Turf Royale – same Nitrogen content but also with non-staining Iron for dark green color!



TurfGro 21-2-15 Winterizer

  • 50% slow release nitrogen (from XCU and XRT) provides turf with sustained feeding from fall into winter.
  • High potassium strengthens plant structure and builds winter stress resistance.
  • Wolf Trax Iron provides immediate and residual feeding, with little to no stain potential.

TurfGro 6-20-10 ProStarter

  • Contains high phosphorus, which is essential for root growth and strong development of the plant, and low nitrogen to prevent burning new seedlings.
  • Phosphorus naturally existing in the soil is immobile and unreachable by small roots, so a high-phosphorus fertilizer should always be applied at or shortly after planting.



TurfGro 21-2-15 Winterizer

  • 50% slow release nitrogen (from XCU and Nutralene) provides turf with sustained feeding from fall into winter.
  • High potassium strengthens plant structure and builds winter stress resistance.
  • Non-staining iron provides deep green color.

TurfGro 15-15-15 Plant Pro

  • A balanced fertilizer appropriate for seeding applications.
  • Phosphorus naturally existing in the soil is immobile and unreachable by small roots, so a high-phosphorus fertilizer should always be applied at or shortly after planting.



TurfGro 16-0-8 Florida Turf

  • The university recommended analysis for Florida lawns
  • 50% slowly available Nitrogen from XCU polymer-coated-sulfur-coated urea provides uniform growth and sustained feeding
  • Phosphorus-free formulation poses a lower risk of nutrient runoff to water sources and does not encourage weed germination
  • High iron for additional quick color without flush growth

TurfGro 24-0-11 Florida Premium Turf

  • 50% slow release Nitrogen from XCU polymer-coated-sulfur-coated urea provides uniform growth and sustained feeding
  • Controlled release Nitrogen reduces the number of applications required, lowering labor and product costs
  • Phosphorus-free formulation poses a lower risk of nutrient runoff to water sources and does not encourage weed germination

TurfGro 8-2-12 Premium Palm

  • Specialty fertilizer formulated with a complete minors package to meet the needs of palms and other tropical plants
  • Contains Kieserite – A controlled-release Magnesium source, which is university recommended to treat Magnesium deficiencies common in palms
  • Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium sources are polymer-coated, ensuring sustained feeding and low burn potential


 Idaho & Eastern Washington

TurfGro 21-0-15 Winterizer

  • 50% slow release nitrogen (from XCU and XRT)vprovides turf with sustained feeding from fall into winter.
  • High potassium strengthens plant structure and builds winter stress resistance.
  • Wolf Trax Iron provides immediate and residual feeding, with little to no stain potential.
  • Phosphorus-free formulation meets WA regulation and does not encourage winter weed establishment.

TurfGro 12-8-6 Starter

  • 50% organic-based starter fertilizer, with 2.5% of the nitrogen from organic sources.
  • Ideal formula to promote proper development of new lawns and seedlings in overseed applications



TurfGro 22-8-15 Winterizer

  • 63% slow release Nitrogen from XCU polymer-sulfur-coated urea provides sustained feeding from fall through winter, with emphasis on root—not shoot—development
  • High potassium strengthens plant structure and builds winter stress resistance

TurfGro 5-5-20 Winterizer

  • A low Nitrogen, high Potassium fertilizer best suited for fall application to St. Augustine lawns.

TurfGro 15-15-15 Plant Pro

  • A balanced fertilizer appropriate for seeding applications.
  • Phosphorus naturally existing in the soil is immobile and unreachable by small roots, so a high-phosphorus fertilizer should always be applied at or shortly after planting.


Need Help Finding the Right Fertilizer for One of Your Properties?
Contact the Local Experts at Your Nearest Horizon Location!


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Topics: Maintenance, Fertilizer

The Long-Term Benefits of Organic Fertilizers

Posted by Bob Franchetto on Sep 23, 2014 4:57:00 PM

In Part 14 of our Drought Solutions video series, you’ll learn how organic fertilizers are able to boost the microbial activity and bio-reserves in your soil's profile.

Video Transcript

When you're talking about an organic, we're totally talking about nutrient management, keeping your microbial activity alive, and then having the carbon or bio-reserves in that soil so that those microbes can regenerate and regenerate and keep going.

We've got a study going on in Phoenix right now on bermudagrass, where for the past 6 years, we've done organic inputs. It got mowed with a mulching mower. So we're mulching that back in and it got organic inputs for a full 6 years and then just standard irrigation.

In the past 2 years, the only thing they stopped was the organic inputs. For 2 years now, that turf plot has been mowed, mulched, mulch mowed and irrigated and that turf plot still looks phenomenal.

I gave it 6 months. Ah yeah, 6 months you'll need more nutrients. What's going on now is that the microbial activity is taking that mulch mowing and starting that whole regeneration process. So what happens with organics vs. synthetics is as time goes on, your soil gets better and better and it starts working for you so now you have to have less inputs and less inputs.

The Key Benefits of Organic Fertilizer


Organic benefits. Obviously, it provides energy for the microbial buildup. We've talked about that. It increases the organic content to enhance the soil structure, water and nutrient retention.

As the soil gets better, it holds more water and nutrients. As that soil profile holds more water and nutrients, it's not just running off across the curb cause we can't get any water in it. It's not just straight leaching all the way through.

It's holding that water. Now the soil is acting as your reservoir and you've got a much, much longer cycle in between your irrigations and less water. You saved it. Less nutrient input, saving money.

That water holding, that reservoir. Healthy plants use less water. Healthy soils hold more water for those plants.

5 Ways Carbon Based Products Improve Soil Health


Carbon based products. As you get that carbon and that organic in the soil profile working, it doesn't want to leach out. It won't leach out because the soil is now working for you and it stays there.
Adds energy. Rich diet to tired soils. So as you're putting carbon based products in there, now those collapsed soils are getting a little reserve to come back. They're getting stronger.

Builds up that microbe. Stabilizes the root zone. We'll talk about why that happens here in a minute. It improves the nutrient and water retention in that soil and promotes rooting and lateral growth.

Now that we have air space. Now that we have water space. Now that we have pour space built into that soil, now your roots can go deeper. Deep infrequent watering, healthier plants, better root structure. And we're going to talk about how to build some root structure.


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Topics: Maintenance, Water Conservation, Fertilizer, Drought Solutions

The Long-Term Consequences of Synthetic Fertilizers

Posted by Bob Franchetto on Sep 11, 2014 2:02:00 PM

Synthetic fertilizers can successfully deliver some nutrients to your customer's turf, but repeated use may also cause significant damage to the soil. In Part 13 of our Drought Solutions video series, you’ll see how synthetic fertilizers can affect carbon levels, destroy microbial activity, and ultimately lead to a complete soil collapse.

Video Transcript

Water management begins with carbon based natural fertilizers. Does everybody understand that statement? That means it's an organic fertilizer. Carbon based natural fertilizers.

Traditionally, stress is a result of synthetic fertilizers. High stress cause we're adding salts to that soil profile. The more salt we add, the harder it is for the plant to uptake that water because the salts are in the way blocking the nutrients.

You get rooting issues. We'll never get the density of this putting green using synthetics.

The one thing that golf course managers know is that organic fertilizers building their soil give them phenomenal density. Now the reason we'll never get as dense or we'll get the quality of a golf course is because we physically don't have the time to mow every one of our properties every day at 1/32". Density comes with frequent mowing at real tight, tight increments.

How Synthetic Fertilizers Affect the Soil Profile


In a synthetic fertilizer, you're going to get a little bit of nutrient management, but it's very little.

Synthetic fertilizers totally destroy your microbial activity in your soil. The microbes that are doing all of the work in a good soil profile get knocked out by salts. They just are not happy and you end up getting a soil collapse in the end.

And the reason is, is because your carbon levels in that soil profile are reduced. When you have reduced carbon levels, you have reduced bacterial activity because the carbon is what all the microbes feed on. That's their only energy source. And once you don't have any microbial activity and the carbon is gone, you get a complete soil structure collapse.

Soil structure collapse looks like that picture where the soil was all cracked earlier. There's virtually nothing there. It looks like that clay soil that was real muddy and soupy, where you don't have any nutrient flow throughout it. There's no airflow. That's a soil structure collapse.

A lot of the pictures that our water purveyors are showing now. Where that lake was all the way down to nothing and you get all that cracked soil and everything shrinking up. That's a soil collapse. Just because there's no nutrient load in it whatsoever.


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Topics: Fertilizer, Drought Solutions

Choosing a Fertilizer Based on Soil Test Results

Posted by Bob Franchetto on Aug 28, 2014 5:04:00 PM

Soil tests help you identify which nutrients your customers' soil actually needs to produce healthy turf. In Part 12 of our Drought Solutions video series, you'll learn the reason why many seasonal fertilizer blends won't work for your soil and why you should integrate soil tests into your annual program.

Video Transcript

Who's doing soil tests on a regular basis?

Every single site should be at least soil tested once a year.

Here's why: When you go to the doctor and you've got something wrong or you don't feel good, what's the first thing the doctor says to you?

Where's your blood work? They want blood work. That's your soil test. The doctor is not going to prescribe anything for you until they know what's going on in the inside of you.

How do we prescribe - hey, I'm going to put that fertilizer on - when we don't know what we need? Or we don't know what's going on? A lot of the fertilizers you're putting on don't work because it's either not needed or the soil is bound up enough to where it can't get it.

Without a soil test, we don't know what the soil needs, whether we're using synthetic fertilizers or we're using organic fertilizers. It still doesn't know what it needs. So that's important.

What's the very first thing customers ask you about fertilizer? What do they want?

Color. I want green. I don't care what you give me. I want it to green up.

Well, the right answer is: I don't know how to green up your site. I don't know what the heck's going on on it. Because we haven't done a soil sample. That's the right answer.

But traditionally the answer you get - see that right over there, that's our winter fertilizer. That's the one you should use. That's gonna green it up. That's our summer fertilizer. That's what you should use. That's what's gonna green it up.

That's my job to start training my guys. To get better at it. To say, well wait a minute. What's going on on your site? How do we know what you're supposed to be using? Are you using organics? Are you using synthetics? Start asking the questions to make us get better, and that's what we want to get to.

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Topics: Maintenance, Water Conservation, Fertilizer, Drought Solutions

8 Types of Nitrogen Used in Slow Release Fertilizer

Posted by Christina Burton on May 19, 2014 9:36:00 AM

type_of_nitrogen_fertilizer_iamgeThe type of nitrogen used in your fertilizer will directly impact both your costs and the health of the turf. Most turf experts recommend that at least half of a fertilizer's nitrogen content come from slow release sources.

Slow release fertilizer addresses 3 major issues:

1. Plant Health - Humans do not eat one big meal at the beginning of the month. We take in nutrients continuously. Plants and turf should be fed slowly too.
2. Environment - Fertilizers that are 100% soluble (quick release) are prone to runoff and can polute the local water supply.
3. Profitability - Slow release products allow for fewer applications, which translates to lower product cost and labor on an annual basis.

There is a misconception within our industry that slow release means you'll have to wait a long time to see a result, which may cause issues with some clients. But in reality, most slow release fertilizers have a certain percentage of nitrogen that is available immediately, while the rest is released over time.

8 Types of Slow Release Nitrogen to Look For on the Label

Urea Formaldehyde

May appear on the fertilizer label as: Ureaform, UF, Nitroform
Composition: A chemical combination of Urea and Formaldehyde. No Coating. At least 60% of the nitrogen content is cold-water-insoluble (CWIN).
Duration: Releases slowly over a period of months up to 1 year.
How the nitrogen is released: Primarily through microbial decomposition, so environmental factors such as soil temperature, moisture, pH and aeration affect the rate of release.

Recommended for: Landscaped beds, not turf.
Used in: TurfGro 14-14-14 Plant Pro Plus - Available in CA, CO, ID, OR, & WA

Methylene Urea

May appear on the fertilizer label as: MU, Nutralene, Slo-Cote
Composition: A chemical combination of Urea and Formaldehyde. No Coating. Between 25%-60% of the nitrogen content is cold-water-insoluble (CWIN).
Duration: Up to 4 months.
How the nitrogen is released: Through microbial activity and hydrolysis (water).

Recommended for: Actively growing turf. Best suited for regions where it's not warm enough to break down coated nitrogen products.
Used in:
     •TurfGro 13-5-13 Palm, Tropical & Citrus - Available in AZ, CA, & NV
     •TurfGro 14-14-14 Plant Pro Plus - Available in TX
     •TurfGro 24-0-9 Summer - Available in ID, OR & WA
     •TurfGro 24-2-9 Spring & Summer - Available in CO

Isobutylidene diurea

May appear on the fertilizer label as: IBDU
Composition: A chemical combination of isobutylaldehyde and urea. No coating. 90% of its total N is water-insoluble (WIN).
Duration: Up to 4 months.
How the nitrogen is released: By hydrolysis (water). Release rate depends on particle size. Temperature, bacterial activity, and soil acidity make little impact, which gives it a consistent, predictable performance.

Recommended for: DOT Erosion jobs and winter fertilizer.

Sulfur-Coated Urea

May appear on the fertilizer label as: SCU
Composition: Urea particles coated with a layer of sulfur.
Duration: 9-12 weeks
How the Nitrogen is Released: Each particle rapidly releases its urea once water penetrates the particle's core. Release rate depends on coating weight, application rate, and environmental conditions like temperature and moisture.

Recommended for: Properties with calcarerous soil, mainly in the Southwest.

Polymer-Coated Urea

May appear on fertilizer label as: PCU, Polyon, Duration, Extend
Composition: Urea particles coated with a semi-permeable polymer membrane.
Duration: 2-6 months
How the nitrogen is released: Through the membrane. Release rate is dictated by the thickness of the coating and temperature. The warmer the temperature, the faster the release.

Recommended for: Turf. Can be expensive, but it is the most technically advanced slow release fertilizer with a highly predictable release rate.
Used in: TurfGro 24-3-12 Extended Feed - Available in CA

Polymer-Coated Sulfur-Coated Urea

May appear on fertilizer label as: PCSCU, PSCU, XCU, TriKote
Composition: A hybrid product that utilizes a primary coating of sulfur and a secondary (outer) polymer coat.
Duration: 10-14 weeks
How the nitrogen is released: First by diffusion through the polymer coating, then by capillary action in the sulfur coating as water dissolves the urea core. Release rate is dependent mainly on temperature (warmer temperature means faster release), but also on microorganisms and water.

Recommended for: Turf. Excellent uniformity in nutrient release, which translates to reduced surge growth and extended feeding. Better value than products with single coatings of either sulfur or polymer.
Used in:
      •TurfGro 8-2-10 Palm & Plant - Available in FL
      •TurfGro 15-0-15 with 50% XCU - Available in FL
      •TurfGro 23-0-10 Spring & Summer - Available in ID, OR & WA
      •TurfGro 24-0-9 Summer - Available in ID, OR & WA
      •TurfGro 24-2-9 Spring & Summer - Available in CO
      •TurfGro 24-5-11 Spring & Summer - Available in AZ, CA & NV
      •TurfGro 28-0-10 Spring & Summer - Available in TX
      •TurfGro 30-3-6 High Nitrogen - Available in ID


Composition: Urea with Dicyandiamide and NBPT - a stabilized nitrogen with no coating.
Duration: Up to 16 weeks.
How the nitrogren is released: UMAXX & UFLEXX have an enzyme inhibitor that allows ammonium to bind with the soil until it is needed by the plant. More nitrogen says in the stable ammonium form, so it is available to the plant for weeks and is not prone to leaching or volatilization.

Recommended for: Turf that needs a quick green-up without excess growth or burn. Works well with high pH calcareous soils (common in the SW).
Used in: 28-3-10 TurfGro Spring & Summer - Available in TX

Organic Sources of Nitrogen

Composition: Very wide range of products, from sludge material to very high quality feather, bone and blood meals.
Duration: Varies by type.
How the nitrogen is released: Depends on the type of organic inputs used in the fertilizer. Ask your Horizon representative about local organic fertilizer options.

Used in:
     •TurfGro 8-0-4 Organic with Mycorrhizae - Available in ID

Need help creating a fertilizer program or selecting the right fertilizer?
Contact your local Horizon store. We're happy to help!

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